How I use data to inform how I lead

For the last twelve months I’ve occupied a leadership position within the Case Manager team at Foundations, and anybody taking on such a role for the first time will always ask themselves, “Where are we now, and where do we want to go”? In a non-leadership role, you will take cues from the leaders in your organisation, but when you’re the leader who do you take your cues from? And how are those people you’re supposed to be leading take cues from you, if you don’t know the answer to that question?

Well, I asked myself the same questions, and the answer was quite stark. Firstly, I didn’t know where we were, and I didn’t know where we were going! And nobody I asked seemed to have any answers for me either!

Luckily, Foundations is a very supportive organisation, and I was helped to arrive at a strategy for moving forward. Firstly, I had to find out what I didn’t know. I had to consider what the key metrics were for our service offer, and included asking the questions: Who are our customers? What do they do, and what do they need us to do to help them? What is our throughput, what limits our throughput amongst many other questions. Luckily, I was able to find the answer to many questions as our data-systems did indeed allow us to gather such information, but there were some key metrics which we were simply not recording. I know this will be a common experience for all my local authority colleagues who have the often unenviable task of gathering data for annual DELTA returns to government. You have my sympathies!

So, the first point is finding out what you don’t know. When you know what you don’t know, it gives you a much better grasp of where you want to go. For me, I found VUCA Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – Wikipedia to be extremely helpful. A VUCA analysis allows you to consider and reflect on your department / organisation and take into context of both internal external factors, some of which you may have influence over, but many of which you don’t. Having considered these issues, and discussed and collaborated on the findings within the team and the wider organisation and its customers, we were able to develop a cohesive strategy.

I’m not going to say any of this was easy, indeed I’m still finding it a struggle at times, but I now at least feel confident that we’re moving in the right direction, and we are delivering a better service for our customers. Much of this success is down to the diligence and hard work of the FCM team, and the support of Foundations senior management team, but critical to the success has been the importance of data, and the intelligent use of data to ask meaningful questions of ourselves. Our software system Foundations Case Manager can be a critical tool to help you gather important management information. Information that allows you to ask considered questions and ultimately deliver a better service to your customers. But the software tool, is just one aspect of this, the other is the way the system is applied in your particular circumstances. Indeed, we recognise this, and as such we have developed a new FCM implementation methodology where we work with customers well in advance of their software implementation to optimise your business processes, and make sure their new system ‘asks the right questions’ so that you can be sure you’re gathering the right information, to help you make the correct decisions.